Weekly Potpourri

So many things in the inbox this week – thought I’d do a little “Week in Review.”

1. Abraham Cherrix goes back to court today to defend his decision to pursue alternative cancer therapy. See Elizabeth Simpson’s article in the Virginian Pilot for recent local coverage. Nice to see others (Michael Cohen, Douglas Diekema) joining the debate.

2. Jane Brody says “Think Twice” before putting PE tubes in your kid’s ears for chronic ear infections, in yesterday’s Science section of the NY Times. Not a bad thought, given recent studies, so think instead of nonsurgical CAM therapies – osteopathic manipulation/craniosacral therapy (see Mills MV, et al: The use of osteopathic manipulative treatment as adjuvant therapy in children with recurrent acute otitis media. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 157: 861-866, 2003), for example.

3. Ross (Abbott) announced to pediatricians this week that they’ll debut “Similac Organic” this fall in stores nationwide. This certified organic version of their popular cow’s milk-based infant formula will likely dominate the previously small-market organic infant formula market. It’s about time we got pesticides, hormones, and other contaminants out of the infant artificial milk supply, don’t you think? And in case you are about to argue that this could all be avoided with breast feeding, think again. Recent studies show that breast milk may contain as many if not more contaminants from maternal environmental exposure. Hmmm.

4. Children and adults at a daycare center in Franklin, NJ were found to have toxic levels of mercury after exposure – ready for this one – from the daycare center being on the site of a former thermometer manufacturer. You can’t make this stuff up. Currently, people on site are recommending retesting periodically, and observation. Is it just me, or shouldn’t they get the stuff out while it’s hot?

5. I read, and re-read, Dr. Jerome Groopman’s essay, “No ‘Alternative’,” from August 7th’s Wall Street Journal. At first I took exception to his negative slant (it’s the easy way out) towards all things CAM, but then, reading more carefully, I came to appreciate the nuances of his piece. All in all, I like Dr. Groopman‘s writings – he’s the author of “The Anatomy of Hope” and a long-time contributor to “The New Yorker.” He often writes, based on his clinical experiences, about the soul of medicine. In “The Anatomy of Hope,” he discusses at length the importance of the mind-body connection in healing. Which is why I found myself a bit distressed when I began to read his WSJ commentary. But reading on, I saw that his argument was for science, simply. He’s trying to make the point, I think, that there’s good medicine, not conventional or alternative. I’m not sure our scientific methods are completely up to this task yet, but the point is taken. I still would take issue with his feeling that “a good doctor distinguishes magic from medicine”; after all, isn’t magic part of the medicine?

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